Non-native gastropods in high elevation horticultural facilities in Hawaii: a threat to native biodiversity

  • Norine W. Yeung
  • Wallace M. MeyerIII
  • Kenneth A. HayesEmail author
  • Jaynee R. Kim
  • Travis J. Skelton
  • Robert H. Cowie
Original Paper


To preserve native floras and faunas of tropical oceanic islands, it is critical to limit the establishment of terrestrial non-native gastropods (i.e. snails, including slugs), particularly those from temperate regions, as they can become abundant in high elevation areas, often the last refuges of native species. In Hawaii, the horticultural trade has been associated with many introductions, but threats posed by nurseries at high elevations have not been assessed. To examine these potential threats, we surveyed gastropods in 21 high elevation (> 500 m) horticultural/agricultural facilities on three Hawaiian Islands (Oahu, Maui and Hawaii) and compared these surveys to 31 previous low elevation nursery surveys (< 500 m) on the same islands. High elevation nurseries harbored distinct non-native gastropod assemblages, which were composed primarily of species from temperate regions. Gastropods from temperate regions had larger elevation ranges in nurseries than those from tropical areas. Our results highlight that nurseries, particularly those at higher elevations, represent key sources for establishment of temperate gastropods, a critical threat to the remaining Hawaiian biodiversity. We also found that high elevation nurseries on Maui and Hawaii supported non-native species not found in Oahu nurseries, indicating that Oahu may not be the only source of introductions into high elevation nurseries. We hope these results will spur active control of non-native gastropods in nurseries, particularly those at higher elevations, to potentially prevent further ecological damage to the already imperiled Hawaiian flora and fauna.


Gastropoda Snails Conservation Endangered species Invasive species Pacific islands 



We thank Meaghan Parker, Skippy Hau, Penny Levin, Pam Hayes, Ginny Cowie, Jennah Bedrosian, Siggi Arnason, Brenden Holland, Shinji Sugiura and Patrick Curry for assistance in the field and David Robinson and Gary Barker for help with identifications. Thank you to Regina Kawamoto and Carl Christensen for help in the collections of the Bishop Museum, and the various horticultural/agricultural facility staff for facilitating access. We appreciate Justin Gerlach for comments on a draft of the manuscript. This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Surveys (CAPS) program, via grants to RHC, and we especially thank Yolisa Ishibashi of the CAPS program for her support. DNA based identification of snails was supported by U.S. National Science Foundation Grants DEB-0316308 to RHC, DEB-1120906 to KAH, and DEB-1656254 to NWY. Contribution number 10625 of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and Bishop Museum's Hawaii Biological Survey 2019-002.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Biosciences Research CenterUniversity of HawaiiManoa, HonoluluUSA
  3. 3.National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Biology DepartmentPomona CollegeClaremontUSA

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